August 27, 2013
It was a very fine time indeed.
One of my all time favorite Bird Songs. People often wax poetic about Jerry, but this is a shining example of superb ENSEMBLE playing. Listen to what Billy is doing on cymbals, Bob's counterpoint, Phil's lower register exploration, and Jerry's use of the pick and his fingers - rather than all the effects that came later on.
There were thousands and thousands of very high people here, and the music reflects that. It just floats...
July 27, 2013
Great stuff here, although one really can't compare this to other "shows" - it IS a soundcheck, after all, and lacks that familiar dramatic arc that connects the entire experience of a Dead show together. This is just a bunch of tunes lazily sort of scattered together - they repeat a few the next night, so take your pick as to which are better.
That said, there is some *seriously* heady music here - Bird Song glides along as easy as you please for damn near 15-20 minutes, and the big, famed jam that leads into Wharf Rat is, I think, the first time the band played around with Mickey's Happiness Is Drumming (aka Fire). Ironic that Mickey wouldn't be there for the "debut", as it were, of this oh-so-familiar chord pattern, but I think it does show just how connected he still was to the band.
So, yeah, great stuff abound here, an easy five stars for the audacious ballsiness of the band's intuition to turn a soundcheck into a full-blown afternoon of music, the tunes themselves, and this beautiful matrix - I think is my favorite way to listen to this most famous of warm-ups. And, no, I do NOT think this is better than the actual show - the actual Watkins-Glen show is something to behold.